On Monday, Odisha became the first state to resume the normal functioning of universities amid the nationwide lockdown. In a letter to the Vice-Chancellors of all public and private universities in the state, the Odisha Higher Education Department has directed the resumption of educational activities with restrictions. Incidentally, the consolidated guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on April 15 stated that the educational institutions shall remain shut till May 3. However, the guidelines also stipulated that the institutions are expected to maintain their academic schedule via online teaching. Currently, there are 74 confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Odisha out of which 24 persons have recovered while one casualty has been reported.
Odisha Govt's Higher Education Department permits resumption of normal activities of State public & private universities during #CoronavirusLockdown, with certain restrictions. pic.twitter.com/WpE3lSWKgx— ANI (@ANI) April 20, 2020
District-wise data of #COVID19 positive cases & recovered cases in #Odisha: As on 20th April. For any health assistance, call 104 Health Helpline. #coronavirus #OdishaFightsCorona pic.twitter.com/yaCm1PE17i— H & FW Dept Odisha (@HFWOdisha) April 20, 2020
First, the Odisha Higher Education Department has made it clear that the classes cannot be held in physical mode. While maintaining that no theory or practical exams will be held, it has directed the universities to ensure preparedness for conducting the exams at short notice. Meanwhile, students can neither live in the university hostel nor can they enter the department without valid permission. While field trips and trips shall be prohibited, seminars, conferences, etc. can be held online. Similarly, the PhD Viva-voce and pre-submission presentation in online mode are allowed.
Most importantly, all Group A(teaching and non-teaching staff) have to be physically present in the universities. On the other hand, only one-third of Group B, C, and D employees will have to attend to their official duty daily. A copy of the University Office Order in this regard must be sent to the local police and civil administration to facilitate the movement of permitted employees to and from the university. At the same time, it has been stressed that COVID-19 preventive measures such as social distancing, sanitization, compulsory use of masks, suspension of biometric attendance, etc. will have to be undertaken.